Kalidasa and Valluvar on Bad Friends and Laughter (Post No.3946)

Written by London Swaminathan

 

Date: 27 May 2017

 

Time uploaded in London: 13-57

 

Post No. 3946

 

Pictures are taken from various sources such as Face book, Wikipedia and newspapers; thanks.

 

contact: swami_48@yahoo.com

 

 

Kalidasa and Valluvar on Bad Friends and Laughter (Post No.3946)

 

Tiruvalluvar is the author of Tirukkural, the Tamil Veda. It has got 1330 couplets organised in 133 chapters. Each chapter has a specific subject dealing with virtues, wealth and love (between man and woman). It expresses the highest and purest truths. It is very rare to see a secular work like this in any other language in the world. It has become very popular because of its brevity and universal appeal. Anyone will enjoy reading it.

 

Kalidasa is the most celebrated poet of India. His seven literary works are considered the best in classical Sanskrit literature. He is more famous for his over 1300 apt similes, imageries and analogies. All the similes in other Indian literatures are his imitations or adaptations. His influence over Indian literature is enormous. There is lot of scope for comparative studies.

 

Here are some amazing similarities in the above two books on two subjects: Laughter and Friendship.

 

Tamil poet Thiru Valluvar is so obsessed with friendship, that he deals with it in 70 to 80 couplets under different headings.

 

Kalidasa says that the relationship with bad friends should be cut off like a poisoned finger affected by a snake bite. Tiruvalluvar says the bad friends are like harlots and thieves.

 

“Cunning friends whose motive is gaining money, are like harlots who sell their body for gold and thieves who plunder” (Kural 813)

“It is better to leave than have the friendship of mean, low minded people that are useless and unhelpful” (Kural 815)

Kalidasa says,

“A friend who is part and parcel of life should be discarded if wicked as a finger which is part of body is cut down if it is bitten by a snake. But a good man, though unfriendly should be accepted, as a medicine though distasteful is acceptable to the sick” (Raghuvamsa 1-28)

द्वेष्योऽपि सम्मतः शिष्टस्तस्यार्तस्य यथौषधम्।
त्याज्यो दुष्टः प्रियोऽप्यासीदङ्गुलीवोरगक्षता॥ १-२८

dveṣyo’pi sammataḥ śiṣṭastasyārtasya yathauṣadham |
tyājyo duṣṭaḥ priyo’pyāsīdaṅgulīvoragakṣatā || 1-28

dveSyo.api sammataH shiSTastasyaartasya yathauSadham |
tyaajyo duSTaH priyo.apyaasiida~NguliivoragakShataa || 1-28

 

Even if someone is despicable he becomes agreeable to King DilIpa, in case if he were to be a principled person, as with a pungent medicine somehow agreeable to a patient; and even if someone is dearer to him he becomes discardable to him in case if he were to be an unprincipled person, as with a finger fanged by a snake, severable for anyone. [1-28]

A friend indeed is a friend in need!

In the Rtu Samhara Kalidasa says,

“The bodies of elephants, lions and oxen were scorched by the fire due to the excessive heat in summer season. They quickly emerged from the grass where they were burnt by fire and they all rested on the banks of a river together, forgetting their natural enmity. They behaved like friends. The image suggests that a real friend is helpful, particularly during distress. Rtu Samhara 1-27

 

Valluvan defines a good friend more beautifully:

“Genuine friendship hastens to redress distress even like the hand which picks up quickly that garment that slips (Kural 788)

“Friendship with worthy men is like the taste in the good books; the more we study the more we know” (Kural 783)

Laughter

There are two words for laughter in Tamil : one with good and another with bad connotations. Strictly speaking both are interchangeable. Only the context determines its meaning. Valluvar deals with laughter in over 16 couplets whereas Kalidasa used it in lesser places. But Kalidasas’ three plays have the Vidushaka (comedian, Jester) which gives good scope for creating mirth. All the ancient Sanskrit dramas have this Vidushaka/ jester character.

 

Let us look at one or two couplets from Tirukkural:

“Laugh when trials and troubles confront you, for there is no other way to overcome grief” (Kural 621)

It is very difficult to laugh when troubles come to us; one must be a saint like Tiruvalluvar to act that way. But most of us laugh at others’ troubles; particularly the troubles encountered by our enemies.

Valluvar echoed what Lord Krishna said in the Bhagavad Gita in the following couplets:

He does not suffer sorrow in sorrow, who does not look for pleasure in pleasure (Kural 629)

He is never afflicted by sorrow who knows the grief is natural and seeks no pleasure” (628)

Kalidasa says,

The lovely gardens resplendent with white jasmine flowers are imagined to be as bright as the sportive laugh f ladies, which is also considered white in colour—(Rtu Samhara 6-23)

 

In Hindu literature White is used for laughter, red is used for anger, Yellow is used for auspiciousness and Black for sorrow or wickedness. They have colour coded the emotions and feelings.

In the Raghu Vamsa (5-70) Kalidasa says,

“The dew drops fallen on the tender leaves with their interiors red resemble the sportive smile fallen on Aja’s lip brightened by the splendour of teeth”

Dew drops = smile; tender leaves = lips

ताम्रोदरेषु पतितं तरुपल्लवेषु

निर्धौतहारगुलिकाविशदं हिमाम्भः

आभाति लब्धपरभागतयाधरोष्ठे

लीलास्मितं सदशनार्चिरिव त्वदीयम्॥ ५-७०

tāmrodareṣu patitaṁ tarupallaveṣu

nirdhautahāragulikāviśadaṁ himāmbhaḥ

ābhāti labdhaparabhāgatayādharoṣṭhe

līlāsmitaṁ sadaśanārciriva tvadīyam || 5-70

taamrodareShu patita.n tarupallaveShu
nirdhautahaaragulikaavishada.n himaambhaH
aabhaati labdhaparabhaagatayaadharoShThe
liilaasmita.n sadashanaarciriva tvadiiyam || 5-70

“Like the thoroughly cleansed pearls in a necklace the dewdrops are now stringing on the surfaces of tender coppery leaflets only to expropriate their ochreish magnificence onto their whitely white bodies, in which process they look like your pleasing smiles occasionally gleaming with the sparkle of your teeth radiating onto your lower lip… [5-70]

 

Kalidasa uses tears of joy to express happiness:

The stream of the Himalayan snow melting under the rays of the sun is compared to the tears of joy shed by a woman when her  lover returns to her after a long absence (Raghu vamsa 16-44)

 

अगस्त्यचिह्नादयनात्समीपम् दिगुत्तरा भास्वति संनिवृत्ते।
आनन्दशीतामिव बाष्पवृष्टिम् हिमस्रुतिम् हैमवतीम् ससर्ज ॥ १६-४४

agastyacihnādayanātsamīpam
diguttarā bhāsvati saṁnivṛtte |
ānandaśītāmiva bāṣpavṛṣṭim
himasrutim haimavatīm sasarja  || 16-44

agastyacihnAdayanAtsamIpam diguttarA bhAsvati sa.nnivR^itte |
AnandashItAmiva bAShpavR^iShTim himasrutim haimavatIm sasarja  || 16-44

 

On the return of the Sun from her co-wife South (indicated by the star Canopus) after his southern solstice to the proximity of North, she that northerly quarter another wife of that Sun shed tears of joy duly dampened with her happiness to which the flow of melted snow from the Himalayas is hypothetical. [16-44]

(Agastya’s direction is South where the star Canopus is known as Agastya Nakshatra)

 

In the fourth act of famous drama Sakuntala Kanva, the foster father of Sakuntala, sheds tears of joy when she departs to join her husband King Dushyanta.

These are just some examples to show how great poets think alike and use forceful similes to bring out the emotions.

Sources: Raghuvamsa from sanskritdocuments.com

Tirukkural by A Aranganatha Mudaliyar, Trplicane, Madras, 1949

The Imagery of Kalidasa, Dr Vinod Aggarwal, Delhi, 1985

 

–Subham–

 

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: